Dead Whales Washing Ashore


Jason Winkle

Dead whale washed ashore at Point Reyes in San Francisco

Over the last year there has been an increase in the number of whales found dead along the coasts of the United States. It is unlike anything we have seen in the last decade, and it is a cause for concern environmentally. The usual average of washed-up whales is 52 a year since 2007 in the United States but just within the past few months we have already seen 23 deaths on the East Coast and 12 on the West Coast. The sudden pulse of large whales has had scientists searching for reasonings behind the incline and it has proven to be multiple problems creating a larger one. Climate change has ocean waters warming and food sources for the whales migrating to shallower waters. Where their food source goes, they must follow and in these exact areas, there are cargo ship supply chains. The number of these ships has also drastically increased since Covid because of the high demand in online purchases and preventing mass shortages like we have seen in the last few years. So, with a higher number of ships and whales crossing paths many of these deaths can be attributed to ship strikes. There have also been deaths from illnesses, starvation because of lack of food sources, and natural predators, but the most common for washed ashore whales has recently seemed to be ship strikes. Scientists have recommended we take action on preserving these species by altering shipping lanes and moving them away from areas inhabited by these whales. If this is not possible then they also suggest slowing vessel speeds to prevent these strikes.